HP ProCurve To Buy Wireless Vendor Colubris

Networking wireless

The terms of the acquisition were not released, but Marius Haas, ProCurve general manager and senior vice president, said the investment will enable ProCurve and its channel partners to offer enterprise and service provider customers a broader selection of wireless technology, including Colubris' tools for wireless integrated access, management and security products, along with 802.11n capabilities.

Haas said ProCurve, Palo Alto, Calif., plans to integrate Waltham, Mass.-based Colubris' product line into its portfolio to expand its penetration into vertical markets like hospitality, transportation, health care, manufacturing, service provider and education. Colubris' wireless solutions help enterprise and service provider users broaden the reach and impact of voice, data and multimedia applications.

Haas said the Colubris buy will give ProCurve and its partners a stronger presence in the wireless arena, an area where ProCurve has a solid product offering but lacked some key elements such as 802.11n.

"It's a technology space we felt we needed to own," he said. "It's a good augmentation to what we had."

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For ProCurve's channel partners, the acquisition of a WLAN vendor gives them a broader solution set to create a stronger demand while also giving them reach into a larger market. Colubris, which was founded in 2000, launched its own partner program in May.

"We will be creating demand for them and giving them a broader set of solutions," he said.

ProCurve has achieved great success at the network edge with its portfolio of network switching and routing products. According to numbers from research firm the Dell'Oro Group, ProCurve is the world's second-largest enterprise LAN networking vendor behind San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems Inc. In the first quarter this year, ProCurve grew worldwide port shipments by 28.4 percent compared to the year before, outpacing the rest of the networking industry, which grew port shipments by 7.82 percent. In North America, ProCurve's port shipments increased by 10.4 percent, while the rest of the market dropped by 11.8 percent, according to Dell'Oro. HP overall reported $110.4 billion for the fiscal year ending April 30, 2008.

Haas said the Colubris acquisition should not be seen as ProCurve ignoring its core competencies, which some Cisco channel partners have said the networking behemoth has done by moving beyond its routing and switching focus and diving into other areas like VoIP and wireless.

"We're staying focused on what we do well," Haas said. "What this does is strengthen the portfolio strategy we already had. We're not moving away from our network edge strategy."

The Colubris purchase marks the first official company acquisition for ProCurve, which previously had made strategic technology buys but never acquired a company, but Haas hinted that it might not be the last.

"We will look at the opportunities out there in the market and understand how it impacts our customers," he said, later adding that ProCurve plans to stay "pretty close to our core competencies."

Buying Colubris is also the first major move ProCurve has made under the leadership of Haas, who took over as ProCurve's senior vice president and general manager in June, weeks after 16-year veteran John McHugh announced he was leaving the company. McHugh is credited with leading ProCurve's rise from a virtual start-up to a lucrative contender in the networking space and built the vendor's channel organization from the ground up as a separate independent unit within a dedicated specialized networking infrastructure force of 4,500 registered solution partners.

Haas said it's too soon to tell exactly when partners and customers will begin seeing product integration between ProCurve's and Colubris' product portfolios, but said he expects the deal to close around Oct. 1.

"This makes a statement to HP's commitment to ProCurve and its willingness to invest in it," Haas said.